Monday, September 5, 2016

City of Curses: Chained (Flash Fiction)

A bit #Crux #Flashfiction.  A pair of Ghostwalkers get into trouble investigating a ghost.  

Chained.

We didn't expect the house to be trouble.  Zarin and I thought there was only just a ghost.  Things still managed to get out of control on us.


"Why don't we just Ward the place and wait for the Ghost to come out?"  I asked.

"It's the second day of this job, and still don't quite get it."  Zarin shook her frizzy, black hair.  She was only a few years older than me.  But her mismatched eyes looked more experienced than mine.  The Rosefolk ghostwalker had already taught me how to use my Sight spells in new ways.  Uses I'd never learned at University.

"But it's easier, isn't it?  I mean, Ghostwarding the place just makes easier on both of us."

"We aren't ratcatchers."  Zarin said.  "Ghosts are citizens in Crux too.  We serve them as well as the living."

"Even if it's quicker than searching an abandoned, five-story apartment building?"  I sighed.  Even as I asked the question, I already resigned myself to our task.

This had been the pattern of patrolling for the Ghostwalkers.  Go to a locale.  Look for relevant phenomena.  Take your time.  Help the dead.  Don't ignore them.  This definitely fell under 'take your time.'

"C'mon Adolgo.  They thought the ghost they saw was a dead man."  Zarin stepped into the building.

"Open our Sight and look for signs of him."

"Yep.  You open your ears, I'll take sight."  Ghostsight would diminish whatever sense it overrode.  It enabled the overwritten sense to interact with the ghostly side.  One's eyes would be dulled, but one could see the dead instead.  Zarin would rely on me to help her see, she'd do the same thing for me and hearing.

We looked for clues as we went.  Ghosts can have echoes you can see in Ghostsight.  Ephemera of their lives.  Even then, Zarin and I looked for clues from the world of the living.

The apartment building had been abandoned a few years before.  This part of Old Crux had a few buildings needing to be replaced or renovated.  They were disasters.  A fire had destroyed a good part of the lobby of the building.  But on the floors above it, things didn't look too bad.

Feyborn rodents had taken over a set of rooms on the second floor.  The third floor creaked a bit too eerily.  Nothing there.  But on the fourth floor, that's when things turned for the worst.

"I'm hearing screaming.  Loud screaming."  I told Zarin.

"Where?"

We ran in the direction of the screaming ghost.  Zarin's arm blazed with purple.  Her ghostsword sprang to life.  The long ectoplasmic spear glowed bright purple.  The ephemera of the ghostsword sliced through a door.  Even with her eyes blinded with ghostsight, Zarin moved unimpaired.  The veteran ghostwalker moved without incident or trouble.

The screaming grew louder.

We found the ghost.  I switched my ghostsight from my ears to my eyes.  I could still hear his screams.

Screaming because of the chains wrapped around him.  They cut into his ectoplasmic flesh.  Ghostly blood dripped from where they cut into him.  They wrapped so tight, I couldn't tell if he had been a man or anything else in life.  The ghostly chains twisted his form.  He floated in mid-air, like an animal caught in some horrible trap he couldn't get out of.

"Zarin..."  I couldn't find the words.  I had no idea how to handle this.

Zarin didn't speak.  She growled and thrust her ghostsword toward the ghost's chains.  No.  Not to the chains, I realized.

Zarin was pointing at the tiefling holding the chains.  Flopped on the floor, both of her legs looked dead.  Her purple-skinned hands clung tight to a trio of ghostchains.  Ghostchains were just another form of a Ghostsword.

"Three?  How did she get three?!"

"Her legs, Adolgo."  Zarin snapped.  "She deadened both her legs to get two most chains to torture this ghost with."

"Torture?"  The Tiefling's head tilted.  Her feline ears twitched.  "I'm sorry, I was busy raking this errant entity.  Anything it says are just illusory.  Impulse echoes that don't matter."

"He's in pain and you're making it worse!"  Zarin shot back.  "Let him go, raker."

"Oh please.  You walkers always make no sense about these things."

The Geistraker rattled her ghostchains.  The ghost screamed.  Zarin's ghostsword glowed bright as she charged in.